OWS activist Cecily McMillan released from Rikers, demands change for female inmates

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- After serving 58 days at Rikers for assaulting an NYPD officer during the Occupy Wall Street movement, Cecily McMillan says she has a new focus: Speaking out for the female inmates she spent nearly two months with.

“If Judge Zweibel, Cyrus Vance or Michael Bloomberg set out to make an example out of me to dissuade dissent, this has had the exact opposite impact,” McMillan said.

McMillan says she was shocked to see the conditions at Rikers. “When I showed up at Rikers scribbling my notes in my little notebook about my rights this and my rights that, studying the inmate handbook , they later told me that they thought that I was a cop.”

Inmates called McMillan a princess, but eventually warmed up to her.

On her final days, she and her fellow inmates put together a list of their demands to the city's Department of Corrections, which included:

  • Provide safe and timely healthcare, including mental health services
  • Provide female doctors for safety and comfort
  • CO's must follow proper protocol (and be punished if they don't)
  • Offer improved drug rehabilitative and educational services

McMillan graphically described witnessing the demise and eventual death of one of her fellow inmates. Calling her only by her first name, McMillan said Judith died because her health concerns were ignored.

She was instead given a dosage of 190 mg of methadone, not allowed to adjust that dosage or refuse the medication.

“After three days on that dosage Judith could no longer remember who she was or where she was and began coughing up blood,” McMillan recalled. “We attempted unsuccessfully to get her medical treatment for the entire day, at one point being told it was not an emergency.”

McMillan shared Judith's story and so many others with her friend Lucy Parks.

Parks would transcribe the accounts during prison phone conversations and eventually post them to social media.

“I am absolutely and further committed to fighting for rights and freedoms that I did not even realize had been eroded to the extent ,” McMillan said.